June 30, 2016

Update on Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

The broccoli and Brussels sprouts are finally gaining some size. At one time the leaves had darkened and started falling off even after being in the ground for a month. David from Dave's Square Foot Garden mentioned that his plants did that when they were root bound. I have to wonder if our terrible flea beetle infestation had put the plants behind because their larva are soil dwelling and feed on roots as well as feeding on the brassicas' leaves.

I treated the garden with beneficial nematodes on June 9th, and I think they must be impacting the flea beetle population. Normally I was squishing at least 5 flea beetles on each eggplant but today I only found a couple beetles in the whole eggplant bed.
There's 6 different varieties of broccoli so lots of variation in growth and leaf patterns. Their beds are the shadiest right next to the car port, soon to be covered deck and barbecue area.
The brassica beds have become catch all beds. I've been planting lots of basil and more Asian greens amongst the broccoli and Brussels sprouts. The frilly leaved Mizuna and spoon shaped Tatsoi were really ate up by flea beetles but they're finally recovering.
I've never had Brussels sprouts do so well. I'm so happy. Brassicas really do like their feet wet, I guess watering everyday is actually a necessity.
I really hope we'll be harvesting Brussels sprouts this winter. It's my husband's favorite vegetable, right up there with broccoli. Fingers crossed!

Lots of bloggers have been talking about starting their winter vegetables. I just finished planting the summer garden, I'm really not ready to start more seedlings. So many decisions to make. What to start and when to start? Lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, turnips, spinach, fennel. Oh my.

Hmmm. Bush beans will finish by the end of July so carrots can start going in at that point. The current broccoli bed gets no sun whatsoever in the fall/winter months. Maybe brassica seedlings can go in beneath the pepper plants while they're finishing up in September.

June 27, 2016

Harvest Monday, 6/27/16

Viola Francese garlic. I planted garlic in styrofoam boxes at the end of November last year and went ahead and harvested them today, a couple of the heads were starting to split open so it was time. They're not large but they seem ok.
Rossa di Sulmona garlic. I also planted a couple of  unnamed varieties but they perished during the winter. The garlics are currently hanging out under the carport out of the sun.
A handful of green beans were harvested from the pole beans. The snap pole beans are infected with rust which is inexorably killing the plants.

Honestly only the Smeralda romano type pole bean is setting pods and it's the bean that's heavily afflicted with rust. That's about 10 different varieties of pole and bush beans that are not setting beans at all. I truly think it's the unbearably hot weather. We grew Cherokee Wax and a bunch of the other bush beans last year and they set lots of beans, but then again last year was much cooler and wetter.

Come join is at Harvest Monday, a place where gardeners share what they've been growing and harvesting in their gardens.

June 26, 2016

The Fruiting Vegetable Garden in June

Golden King of Siberia, a giant yellow-gold tomato. The plant has wispy leaves and seems to hate our hot weather but it always manages to produce, interestingly it seems to put effort in ripening one giant tomato at a time. This one is about the size of my hand already I had to prop it up under a piece of string because the whole plant fell over trying to hold it up.
Purple Cherokee really seems to enjoy this year's drier weather. During wet years this variety cracks terribly which means it rots before ripening, either way it really needs to be supported so the tomatoes don't come in contact with the wet ground or be grown in raised beds with good drainage. It's a great variety that puts on lots of fruit, but I don't think we got a single tomato that didn't rot during last year's floods.

All the tomatoes are three weeks to a month behind, I had to replace 40 plants this year due to varmint destruction. Even so, it looks like it'll be a decent year for tomatoes.
Celebrity (F1), I decided to grow a hybrid variety just as insurance against weather related issues. I've grown this variety before in desert country, it puts on two big flushes of tomatoes so would be classified as more of a semi-determinate. These fruits are more pointed at the blossom end than what is normal for this variety and they're not as ruffled on the shoulders, so I don't know what that means breeding wise. I do know it's a cross between a roma-like paste tomato and some round variety.
Homestead, a new variety for me. It's putting on some nice big bunches of tomatoes but they seem to be growing slowly.
Pear tomato, a red Italian variety that's supposed to be nice and big with gorgeous ruffles. The big one is about the size of my palm but still has a long ways to go.
The cucumbers are finally coming on like crazy, there are little cucumbers everywhere which I've been hand-pollinating everyday.
Ahhh, summer squash season is close at hand. The bees haven't found the squash plants yet so I've been trying to remember to hand pollinate, but it's difficult because the flowers don't stay viable very long. I purchased a couple of Yellow Crookneck plants but they've been hit by squash vine borers, they've recovered but aren't much bigger than this seeded plant.
The zucchini plants are massive already, 4-5 feet across. So exciting. I tried pollinating them this morning so fingers crossed.
The Korean melons have set 3 or 4 fruits and they're starting to take over the pepper bed. I'm really hoping this is the same type of melons we ate while visiting Virginia. Unlike the Crimson Sweet watermelon plants which keep growing and growing but no female flowers have shown up yet.
The snap pole beens are infected with rust with all the lower leaves dying out as the disease climbs up the plants, it's unlikely we'll be getting much green beans. They were heavily infested by flea beetles this spring which weakened the plants to begin with.
Santa Fe Grande is setting lots of little peppers. It's one of the hottest varieties I grow. The peppers are thin-walled but have a great flavor which I use in our salsa. We can salsa at varying levels of heat, but the heat does seem to mellow over time. I've increased the types of peppers and tomatoes in our salsa, and it is so good. The flavors are so complex and magical.

This year we have Serrano chile, Anaheim, Numex Big Jim, Numex Joe Parker, Santa Fe Grande, Lemon, and the hot Fish pepper. Sweet pepper wise, we're growing Corno Rosso, Carmagna Rosso, and Jimmy Nordello. Our daytime temps have been in the 100's (38 degrees Celsius) and nighttime temperatures at 75 degrees, so the plants have been aborting their flowers. This week it's supposed to cool down to the upper 80's (31 Celsius), so hopefully the plants can set more fruit before the next heat wave. Otherwise I'll be resorting to store bought peppers, knuckle bite.

June 12, 2016

Harvest Monday, 6/13/16

Asian greens seedlings bolted after a string of 95 degree days (35 Celsius) so I nabbed them and added them to a simple stir fry with buckwheat noodles.
Sliced pork and buckwheat noodles with sweet peppers, carrots, onion, and the harvested Asian greens. The sauce was simple: 1/4 c. soy sauce, 2 tbsp. hoison sauce, 2 tbsp. molasses, 2 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. sriracha hot sauce, and 1 tsp. sesame seed oil. The hot sauce was a bit spicy, so I would halve it next time or add more noodles. Buckwheat or soba noodles are very easy to cook, generally it's just 3 minutes in boiling water and then drained and added to your cooking pot at the end.

It's been so hot lately, 102 degrees this weekend and the humidity today was just awful. Just the act of standing up in the garden made me nauseous and dizzy. I've been watering everyday, but didn't have a chance to apply the rock dust or Bt this weekend. It's not going to cool down anytime soon, so I'll just have to get it done.

We're in that in between time in the garden where everything is just growing. There's tiny beans just forming, lots of little tomatoes, and the eggplants and peppers are starting to blossom. So things are good.

Please join us at Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres, a place where gardeners share their harvests and garden goings on.

June 11, 2016

Squash Vine Borer Nearly Kills Tomato

Remember that Pantano Romanesco tomato plant whose top suddenly flopped over and died? Well I was trimming the crumbly desiccated bits and found a hole in the stem. Yep. It was a squash vine borer. There's even the tell tale "saw dust" trail in the hole, a sure sign of vine borer activity.

There have been a few of the red moths flying around which are the adult version of the vine borer and of course plenty of cabbage moths fluttering about as well. Luckily the squash plants are still much too little to seduce the moths into laying their eggs, but I'll be spraying Bt on the broccoli and Brussels sprouts tomorrow.
It was actually a fairly large plant and Pantano Romensco is an excellent variety, but it'll now get replaced with a Jubilee tomato. One of the last three unplanted tomato plants that I've been babying after finally potting up the poor root bound creatures.
Today I'm tying up tomato plants in the Florida weave style and later watering the garden with a dose of rock dust. I have to admit, my back is killing me and I'm taking breaks each time I finish tying up a row. This style of tomato support system will get much easier once the plants get taller.

Almost forgot to mention. This year I've seen a tiny insect pollinating the tomatoes, a pretty shiny blue-green flying insect with "saddlebags" for carrying pollen just like a normal bee. I've seen them once before at our old place, the year we had a spectacular tomato and pepper harvest.

June 9, 2016

Treating the Garden With Beneficial Nematodes

We got the beneficial nematodes in the mail yesterday. My husband immediately brought them inside so they could cool down. They need to stay below 85 degrees Fahrenheit or you risk killing them, I had paid for expedited shipping and yesterday was our coolest day of the week at 82 degrees.
On the back of the insert they list a lot of the insects the beneficial nematodes are supposed to be affective against their larva, and the big one for me is flea beetles. They won't do anything for the adult flea beetles but it's supposed to kill off their young. And hopefully these nematodes will reproduce in the garden and maybe help eradicate flea beetles.
It actually came with 2 packages of sponges but I'm only showing one here. The sponges themselves smell like death. It's really awful. The application is easy though, water the area you're going to treat first, then squeeze the sponge into a big water-filled watering-can and they apply the nematodes over the wetted area, and then water the area again after application. It's like you're watering your garden three times. Each sponge is supposed to do 2 applications, for a total of 4 applications from two sponges. I went ahead and applied the nematodes yesterday once the sun had passed the house and the garden was in shadow.

I've seen little white cabbage moths flying about already so had also ordered some Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). I'm planning on giving the beneficial nematodes 4 days to penetrate the soil before applying the Bt on Sunday. The rest of this week is supposed to be blazing hot with the weekend getting close to a 100 degrees (38 Celsius). It seems overly hot already, but luckily the humidity isn't as awful as it can be.

June 6, 2016

Harvest Monday, 6/6/16

 Garlic scapes, a first time harvest for us. It has a surprisingly powerful scent.
The scapes was used in this fried tofu, broccoli, and sesame seed dish with a homemade sweet and sour sauce. One of my husband's favorites.

The harvests are very light at this point. Although the Mother Stallard pole beans are just starting to bloom. It's been a slow start to the season with planting being thwarted by rainy weather, but just about everything is in the ground and growing.

Please join us at Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres. A place where garden enthusiasts share the things happening in their gardens.

June 4, 2016

The Last Things that Need to Be Planted in the Garden

There's still six packs of Asian greens that need to be planted, pak choi to the left, gailan behind the pak choi, mibuna to the right with choy sum behind it. The choi sum flowered after that string of 95 degree days, I'm planning on adding it to some ramen soup soon.
There's Simpson lettuce to the left which is a wonderfully tender loose leaf type, and tatsoi to the right with its spoon shaped leaves.
I think that's a late flowering type of choy sum on the left and of course the frizzy leaved mizuna on the right.
With greens and herbs I generally pot up the big plants giving them time to grow stronger in a controlled environment, while the tiny plants immediately get set out in the garden. This is supposed to be a classic Italian basil, and it smells really good.
Siam Queen Asian basil with it's intense licorice aroma. It's more affected by drought conditions with leaves dying off from lack of water, but it's hardy enough to come back and produce well. I've had plants last all summer, just keep pinching off the flowers and the plant will branch out and produce more leaves.
These are the extra basil I've been setting out in the garden. See that odd puffy wrinkly basil to the back left and to the right? That's Bolloso Napoletano, it's supposed to grow leaves the size of your hand and have a wonderfully intense flavor that most giant basil lacks. I have a couple dozen potted up but forgot to take a close up picture of it.
An enormous planter with more gailan surrounding a sweet potato.
There's also pak choi growing in styrofoam containers.
This container of pak choi keeps getting dug out by critters. There's a couple other styrofoam containers  that are currently planted with garlic. Once the garlic is pulled they'll be filled with Asian greens.
The broccoli is tiny compared to last year, they're being invaded by leaf miners and other insects that keep nibbling on their leaves. I fertilized them a bit yesterday and I'll be looking for Bt at local stores, my friend mentioned that Bacillus thuringiensis is sold as mosquito dunks that you can add to a big barrel of water and then wet your plants with it. Ah, never mind, that Bt is specific to mosquitoes.
The shelly pole beans are doing fantastic, they're filling out their trellises really well but something is eating the snap pole beans. I find holes all the time where the plants are completely pulled up, so weird. Birds still hang out in that part of the garden because there's no soaker hoses set up there, so... Are they to blame?

The rain is thwarting us. There's no way we can start on the fence this weekend. But next week promises to be sunny and dry. Hopefully the mason who's working on our foundation will be able to come out then, too.

I missed taking a picture of our lawn after the dump truck debacle. My husband ended up rototilling and reshaping the whole non-garden area, we'll be adding a couple yards of soil to fill in low spots and then reseed the grass. It's better this way, you always end up with patches of different colored grass when you don't know the variety.

June 3, 2016

Hot Chilli Peppers are Finally Planted in the Garden

My husband and I saw a funnel cloud forming while driving home from dinner Wednesday, luckily it started breaking up once it neared the river. Just a few weeks ago a small tornado hit a town 20 minutes from here. The tornado sirens in our town are incredibly loud and unnerving, a strangely forlorn up and down cry like a voice wailing in anguish.
I'm so happy the hot peppers are finally planted in the garden. In just a couple days the chilli plants have already doubled in size (it just seems like that), they love being planted in the ground and sure are enjoying the heat and humidity. This bed contains 38 pepper plants with 31 of them being hot chilli peppers. There's  about 2 feet between rows and 1 foot between plants within a row.
The tender new growth on this Corno Rosso sweet pepper plant are a pretty lighter green in color. My plants are still small because I had to reseed after a tragic overheating incident where I believe the seeds got cooked.
Aji Lemon Drop hot chilli pepper with its cupped leaves, these are supposed to be especially hot with a wonderful citrus-y flavor.
Serrano hot peppers immediately start producing side shoots when they're very small, they even have side shoots at their cotyledon's point of attatchment. They're a very hot pepper, although not as hot as Santa Fe Grande which I'm also growing.
Four Korean Ginkaku melons were planted amongst the pepper bed. I'm hoping they're similar to the melons we ate while visiting my dad in Virginia.
The tomato supports will get put in some time next week because this weekend I'm helping my husband put in the support posts for a fence. So exciting! The tomato support system I've decided to use this year is the Florida weave which just uses t-posts and twine, two things I have lots of.
On Tuesday, I accidently sat on this Celebrity tomato while planting basil the next row over and snapped the top off, it was just hanging by a piece of skin. I taped the stem back into place and it seems to be doing fine.
But I don't know what happened to this Pantano Romensco tomato, the top part just flopped over and died. The stem isn't broken or anything, makes me think of insects or some kind of disease, or maybe it got wacked with the heavy hose. 
I'm going to have to give up on growing eggplants in the ground, it's impossible to fight the flea beetles. Should I dig them up and replace them with pepper plants, or just leave them in the ground and keep fighting the battle? I still have a few eggplants in pots that'll probably end up making the front porch their home.
Gray-blue little mushrooms, very delicate and only lasting a day before disappearing.